The Grace College School of Education has received a grant of $750,000 from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its initiative, Advancing the Science of Reading in Indiana. The grant will enhance the application of the Science of Reading in Grace’s teacher preparation program and help establish the Center for Literacy and Learning (CLL) at Grace College. The center is a new initiative dedicated to enhancing teacher candidate knowledge and application of Science of Reading evidence-based practices while collaborating with local school districts to build capacity for dynamic clinical placements.
Grace College is one of 28 Indiana colleges and universities that received grants from Lilly Endowment to support efforts that integrate Science of Reading-aligned principles into teacher preparation programs.
The Center for Literacy and Learning will collaborate with the School of Education to offer valuable learning opportunities, training programs and resources for aspiring teachers and the wider community. A tutoring center will be embedded into the center to help local students improve their reading skills while allowing teacher candidates to apply the Science of Reading in a small group setting.
“We are so blessed to have received this grant that enables us to continue preparing our teacher candidates in reading instruction,” said Dr. Cheryl Bremer, dean of the School of Education at Grace. “We have tremendous confidence in the success of the Center for Literacy and Learning thanks to the thoughtful partnerships in our county and the dedicated work of the School of Education faculty and staff.”
Dr. Rachael Hoffert, chair of elementary education at Grace, along with Megan Smith, the School of Education’s grant project manager, were key in developing and implementing the grant.
“Teaching students to read is a critical skill for our teacher candidates,” said Hoffert, who devoted a semester-long sabbatical to researching the Science of Reading. “The establishment of the CLL will propel the Science of Reading framework forward with local school partners and extend opportunities for our candidates to learn foundational literacy skills so they are fully prepared to teach students how to read.”
As a result of these initiatives, the School of Education expects to see data-based improvement via the department’s teacher candidate assessment scores, the state’s new literacy endorsement passage rates and the local school partners’ feedback.
“It is imperative that more of Indiana’s elementary students learn to read proficiently, and it is essential that current teachers and the next generation of teachers are prepared to use proven principles to teach reading in their classrooms,” said Ted Maple, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for education. “We are pleased therefore to help Indiana colleges and universities strengthen the use of these research-based principles to teach reading in their teacher preparation programs.”
Lilly Endowment launched the Advancing the Science of Reading in Indiana initiative in 2022. It complements a statewide effort undertaken in 2022 by the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) to improve reading achievement in K-12 schools by helping current teachers implement Science of Reading-aligned principles in their classrooms. In 2022, the Endowment made a $60 million grant to the IDOE to support that work with school districts and teachers across the Indiana.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private foundation created in 1937 by J. K. Lilly and his sons, Eli and J.K. Jr., through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with its founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education, and religion, and it maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.